Permanent home for Taunton railway modellers is fulfilment of 70-year-old dream

IT’S been a dream since 1946 – and now it’s coming true.

A Somerset model railway club is building its own, permanent home, in beautiful surroundings.

Members of the Taunton Model Engineers are hard at work to fulfill a 70-year-old dream of having their own base – and have now secured a major grant to make it a reality.

The group has been granted £105,000 from the Viridor Credits Environmental Company, allowing them to build a permanent building and two railway track layouts.

Previously, the group had raised money to buy more than four acres of land at West Buckland, near Wellington, and secure planning permission for their dream project.

And after work was delayed by the coronavirus lockdown, work has now started, thanks to the grants.

It is hoped the base, a dream of the group since it was formed in 1946, will become a ‘centre for the promotion of engineering, education at all levels, and the sheer enjoyment of locomotives and other machines in a beautifully-landscaped setting’.

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Chairman of the Taunton Model Engineers, David Hartland, said: “This is tremendous news.

“The members have worked hard to raise funds to buy the land, and then to clear it and start levelling and grading the site, and do the earthworks for the building – now we can see the future clearly and are keen to get on with developing the plans we have made.”

All the work on the site is being carried out by volunteers from Taunton Model Engineers, building on the skills and experience of the membership.

“Our members are engineers, and think as engineers,” said David. “And being drawn from all walks of life, the necessary skills are all there somewhere, so we can save an enormous amount of money by providing all the labour for the project, and members are keen to be involved.”

The previously-bare site will include new tree-planting and a pond, which will greatly increase the value of the land to wildlife by providing new habitats, David said.

It will also be a place to be enjoyed by the local community on many days through the year, even when trains are not running.

The project has been welcomed by the residents and parish council of West Buckland, he said.

“The country needs more engineers, and it would be good to think that the professional engineers of the future might have their imagination fired here at West Buckland while still at school,” David added.

Members were deeply frustrated when the coronavirus crisis brought a halt to the regular working-parties of members.

But the ability groups of six to gather in the open-air (with proper social distancing) means that serious work is now underway.

The multi-purpose building is taking shape, cuttings and embankments for the small-gauge railway have been cut, other groundworks are well under way, and seven tonnes of steel rail have been unloaded ready for the tracks to be laid.

It is hoped trains could be running at the site as soon as next year.

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